Tuesday, July 28, 2009

wfmw -- catching that run away dog

For some reason Nathan had to be in this picture as well.

Our dog has a bad habit -- Running away.

When she sees an open door she feels the need to dash through it and run for the hills, or the corn fields, or the neighbor. The good/bad part of this is that she absolutely loves strangers and so whenever she sees someone new she will run straight to them and jump all over them and that is how we have generally gotten her back.

A few weeks ago we wrapped up an obedience class that for the most part didn't really teach us or her anything new, but they taught us one trick that we knew would eventually come in handy.

We practiced an emergency whistle. Using a regular whistle (like used in sporting events) we blew three loud, quick blasts and then gave her a special treat. In our case we used salami which she devoured, and she never gets it any other time.

Here's how we conditioned our dog.

First day -- while standing near the dog, blow whistle three times, give salami/treat. Repeat this TEN TIMES in close succession! Daisy loved this activity.

Salami has become her irresistible treat item now,
saved only for these special times.

Second through fifth day -- while near the dog, blow whistle three times, give salami/treat. Repeat a few times at various locations in and around the house.

For another week -- repeat this exercise once a day always varying the environment so the dog learns that no matter where she is, if she hears those three whistles she has one amazing treat in store.

Once a week for the rest of your dog's life -- repeat this exercise so she doesn't forget.

Clearly not a quick fix, but does it work!!!! Today, we had the first time to really need this training. One of our outside doors got left propped open and Daisy took full advantage. We didn't realize it at first, looked all over inside the house and then found the open door.

Blake got very worried about losing "his" (that is, his when he wants to play, someone else's when it needs cleaning up after or a bath) dog, but I had a bit of confidence in our training. We got the whistle, got the salami, and went on the porch.

Three quick blasts on the whistle and Daisy cam dashing around the corner of the house to get her salami. Ahhhhhh. The thrill of success.

Generally, she has learned not to disappear out the door when we are looking so I didn't know that we would have need for this, but sometimes accidents happen, and it felt so good to be prepared.

Very easy and effective training technique to know you can always get your dog's attention in an emergency. Wonder if I should try this on my kids . . .

Check out more Works for me Wednesday.


Home School Dad said...

Don't have a dog, but when I was in grade school our family was coming home from a solo contest and as our brood (5 kids at the time) came in the door the dog sneaked out. Before we could notice he was gone. Someone came to our door they had just ran over and instantly killed Snoopy. A trick like that could avoid stuff like that for others. Thanks for sharing.

5intow said...

Sorry that story didn't have a happier ending. :-( Makes this tip all the more necessary.

Thanks for stopping in!

Sara said...

Stopping by via WFMW. In January, we adopted a dog from a shelter. She is a wonderful dog, but she has this horrible habit as well. I've written several posts on it, because she ends up making me look ridiculous and her runaway sessions have always had a happy ending. But--I fear for the time that the ending isn't so happy. So you know what's on my To Do List today? That's right. Picking up a whistle and buying some salami. Thanks for the great tip!

cinarich said...

That is a wonderful trick! I am going to start working on it today. I have two labs,Izzy & Ike, and they love to run so I am hoping this works as well for me as it did for you.
Thanks for passing on this tip.

5intow said...

This is such a very specific tip that I almost hesitated to post it, but I am glad that it will come in handy for a at least some readers.

Sara and Cinarich, just so you know, we were about a month into the training (settled into the once a week reminder) when it was first put to the test, and it worked like a charm.

Hope you find the same success!

Weird Unsocialized Mom said...

Thanks so much for sharing that! We have two inside dogs that just run like crazy whenever they manage to slip out the door. I've already read this post to the kids and we're excited to try it out!

Your Frugal Friend, Niki said...

Awesome! Hands down the best tip I've read today!

I have 2 stubborn small dogs who love to escape. I will definitely be trying this out.


5intow said...

Kris and Niki, glad you found something helpful in your WFMW meandering.

I think this works especially well if your dogs are highly motivated by food, but I hope that all of you have the same results and peace of mind that we have now.


Anonymous said...

Thanks so much! We have this problem with our "rescue pup" - I know this will work for him!!